My Functional Training Rant

My Functional Training Rant: Why It Angers Me

If I hear one more person say “but is it functional”, I will put a hot poker in my eye. There is such a massive knee jerk reaction in the fitness over the past decade that I find it irritating. In reality, everything is functional. It just depends on what function needs to be addressed. If you want to be a power-lifter, you need to be strong enough to dead lift, squat, and bench and be flexible enough to do it to proper depth. So strength is the priority, and aerobic endurance is minimal. Just like Olympic lifters need to be explosively fast, and very flexible to be able to get in to position to properly execute very technical lifts. Strength is not the number one priority, explosiveness is. It’s like a power-lifter is akin to a trash compactor. They are still fast, but nowhere near as explosive in movement as an Olympic lifter. Olympic lifters are more like a mouse trap they move exceedingly fast an the movement is rapid. Maybe not the best illustration, buts it is all I got.  So why do I hate hearing about functionality? Because every Tom, DICK, and Jane who get certified in personal training are hell bent on talking about functionality and specificity.

My Functional Training Rant: Strength Is A General Quality

Strength is a general quality, not a specific one. So every time I hear some person say ” But what is the direct carry over to the game?” At this point I want to shake them until they pass out. There is no specific movement you can do in a gym that has any direct carry over to make your slap shot harder or your jump shot higher! You make the organism (body) stronger, and then work at perfecting your slap shot with your new found strength. That’s why there is a thing called block periodization. You work from very general qualities mostly to very specific qualities. Then as you have your athlete fine tuned, some idiot coach demolishes him with a meat grinder camp and all that off season work goes out the window in two weeks of 2 per day practices. My point being is that the coach teaches the player how to play the game. Weight lifting just prepares them to be generally stronger so that specific qualities can be learned with the new strength. That is the perfect world in strength.

My Functional Training Rant: Cross-fit Football Specific

I am sure some cross-fitters are ready to pounce on me for bringing this one up.  My neighbor and I had a discussion about lifting in the backyard over a beer. He was a local high school football coach of a crappy program. He mentioned that his buddy opened a “box”, cross fit lingo for a gym. He said that his team loved doing cross fit and that it was really good. I happened to train many kids from one of the best programs in our state. I do a bastardized 5/3/1 program. I asked him why cross fit for football players? He said they were doing “Cross Fit, Football Specific.” I countered with “I thought cross fit was the jack of all trades, the master of none?” I said “How can something that is based on non-specificity now be specific? He said it just is! Okay! So my next question was “How did you guys do last year?” He meekly replied 0-9 but the kids love it. I said don’t take this the wrong way but if your kids train like that and play my kids, your kids will get raped for 48 minutes. For anyone who gets offended, I use rape loosely. I hate the actual crime so please don’t paint me as insensitive. End of conversation.

My Functional Training Rant: Trainers Who Suck At Their Job

A local community college has a personal training program that certifies personal trainers. They literally graduate like the Stepford Wives. They literally all do the same bullshit training. They do mobility work, use TRX’s, do pistols, every strange exercise under the sun, and yet their client is 50 lbs overweight and just needs to work hard. I fail to see how a foam roller and some stretching is helping a lady who is grossly obese. How pray tell  is having her stretch her piriformis going to help her? Her most pressing need is to shed 50 pounds which will only happen from basic hard exercise and a good diet. I think all the above mentioned tools of training are great, but only in certain instances, not as a method of training.  To be an effective trainer you must first outline the clients most pressing need and make that happen. Maybe the person with the tight piriformis wouldn’t have that issue if they lost 50 pounds. Just food for thought. Do what the client needs not what your new trainer paint by numbers guide book tells you to do. I am not picking on new trainers but I will say get out of that rut you were hammered into. Free thinking is the best way to train. Over the years you acquire tools much like a mechanic. When you expand far enough with your knowledge, then you have more precise tools to fit each job better. To me a kettlebell is a tool, not an entire training system. I am sure I will take heat for this but I don’t care.

My Functional Training Rant: Everything Has It’s Place At The Table

Let me repeat myself, there is no one best way to train. It entirely depends on your goals. I fail to see how swinging a kettlebell will prepare a football player for a 225 bench test at the NFL Combine. I also wouldn’t have a ballet dancer follow a bodybuilding routine. Match the lift style with the goals , but don’t look for specificty. Just take it for what it is, a general quality. I just get sick of people pushing their paradigm as THE paradigm. I had a hockey player who I started training when he was 10. Before I get ripped that he was too young, for two years he was just the leading scorer on one of the top AAA teams in the world. He had a full ride scholarship to the University of Michigan. He played 2 years on Team USA where he was again the leading scorer. So he went to skate with his nee skating coach and I promptly got a call from said female skating coach. She said Evan had mobility issues. So I let her “Mike Boyle” me to death. When she got done, I said “I see you like Mike Boyle’s philosophy? She said how did you know?” I was thinking “Lady, I have seen and read about everything over the past 25 years. I recognize anyone of consequence and how they do things. It doesn’t mean I will switch to that system. So I politely told her “It’s great that you see all these flaws in Evan after one hour with him. I said “we must be doing something right for him to be on Team USA and also have a full ride to U of M at 15 years old.” I went on to say “If being a great skater was a prerequisite to playing NHL hockey, half the league would be kicked out. That was followed by my other favorite comment, “there is more than one road that leads to Rome!!” That pretty much shut her up. So in a nutshell, don’t be an asshole. Train people the way you train them, but do what they need, not what you want. That’s why I train everyone different. Different body, different needsIf you can’t adapt on the fly, you won’t make it in this business. Trust me I spent the better part of 20 years making $100K training people. My advice, shut up and learn from people better than you. Too many Johnny Come Lately’s are too full of themselves to understand that those of us who have been successful, have been successful for a reason. It’s much easier to follow a path than it is to blaze your own. That’s it! As my good friend Melissa Carter says “I am done, I dropped the mic. Peace out!”


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